Sunday, February 14, 2010

Uncle Emily


My American Literature students have been reading the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Got to tell you, I really dig teaching Emily Dickinson, this is partly due to the fact that her quatrains can be sung to the tune of the Gilligan’s Island theme song.

It’s true, try it.

We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statues touch the skies.


Uncle Emily, as she liked to call herself, was truly a quirky cool human being. The woman rarely left the house. Some think her self imposed house arrest had something to do with her tendency to fall for married guys, but no one knows for sure. The bottom line is she spent most of her adult life writing poetry and letters at her bedroom window overlooking an old grave yard.

I suppose what intrigues me most about Dickinson is the fact that she lived out her 56 years unpublished. She did submit her poetry, but they said her stuff was too unconventional, that she would need to make revisions, that her poetry was not marketable. So she sat at the window, looking at those tombstones pounding out beautiful poems.

After she died her relatives found countless neatly wrapped packages containing almost 1,800 brilliant poems. Her poetry wasn’t published in its intended form until 60 years after her death.

Emily Dickinson never backed down; she never played the game; she never worried about agents or editors or publishers. She just wrote – she just wrote amazing, beautiful, mind blowing poetry.

19 comments:

Rick Rivers said...

So did Wilfred Owen. Maybe that'll happen to me too, but no cemetary out my window, just the neigbor's trash.

Paul Greci said...

Great post! I tried the Gilligan's island tune-it works! Thanks for refreshing my memory on Emily Dickinson's isolated life. Amazing.

I'm also amazed with Emily Bronte--She led an isolated life, died at 28, and wrote Wuthering Heights.

kavita said...

Loved the post so much that i am sharing it on my facebook profile this morning.Great going Synder !!

Sproglet said...

I've never been one for poetry until relatively recently. For shame I've hardly ever read anything of any great poets.

I think it's time to start!

Momma Fargo said...

Following you from Aion's recommendation. You are funny!

italgalmm said...

Why you ol Motivational Teacher you..

Do you live in van down by the river?

*Miss Chris Farley so much.

Erika said...

Found you via "I blog your profile" - fantastic post....I think I will adopt "Uncle" when I get older as well.

hetbook said...

great post Thnks

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"She just wrote"

Certainly fodder for the beleaguered writer.

And, the Gilligan's Island theme? You had me singing it. Most fun. I'll never read Emily Dickinson the same again.

Wendy (aka quillfeather). said...

Sad story. Great post.

PS. Where's the banana?

Cate P said...

I have a book of some of her poetry, she had an amazing gift with words. I hope somebody told her that while she was still alive.

The Uneasy Writer said...

I've always liked 'My Life Closed Twice'. However, I think I like it even more now that I can sing it to the tune of Gilligan's Island.

Sheri

Clif said...

One of my favorite posts yet. Keep it up #167 Dad.

Guely of Sweden said...

Gotta confess just knew the name. After reading this feel like reading some of her work.
Gilligans tune, yes it fits like an old shoe. The mistery is how did you find that out!!
Solid post!

#167 Dad said...

Rick,
Trash cans are way more inspiring than tombstones.

Paul,
Imagine what Bronte might have come up with if she had stretched it out a couple of decades.

Thanks Kavita.

#167 Dad said...

Sproglet,
Uncle Emily is a great place to start.

#167 Dad said...

Thanks for stopping Mama Fargo. I checked out your blog and enjoyed your cop in the middle od nowhere stories.

italgalm,
What's wrong with living in a van by the river?
I agree, Farley was a funny dude.

Erika,
Thanks for stopping by. Will make it a point to check out your blog.

hetbook,
Thank you for reading. Will check out your blog today.

MJH,
Keep writing. That's the lesson.

Wendy,
So you don't think I ought to switch to an avocado?

Cate,
I'm thinking Dickinson was ok with her choices.

Uneasy Writer,
I read My Life Closed Twice... with my students this week.

Clif,
Thanks. Looking forward to the next Justice League trip.

G-Man,
I'd tell you but then I'd have to kill you...

David C. said...

My poetic comment on this post:

Nice.
Concise.

Note: This comment can't be sung to the tune of anything.

beFrank said...

Sage advice.

Do what you love and the money will come.

If you aren't discovered until after you pass, at least you lived doing what you love.

Good job.